Manchester City took an strong lead in their UEFA Women's Champions League round of 16 tie away to LSK courtesy of Demi Stokes, Izzy Christiansen, Claire Emslie and a Jane Ross double.
City find their feet and set the pace
Not a team to be pushed to the back foot in Lillestrøm, LSK saw most of the ball for the opening ten minutes, getting a feel for the game and looking for ways to cut their opposition open. A delicate touch by Guro Reiten saw her thread the ball through to run onto before looking to set Synne Hansen up, the attacker too flat footed to make the strong chance count.
Growing into the game, City began to push forward as the two shared possession, the visitors first shot not arriving until the 21 minute, Nikita Parris’ shot from range fired over Cecille Fiskerstrand’s crossbar. The increase in pressure soon paid dividends as blue shirts piled forward, Demi Stokes bright to follow the path of the ball and slip it into the far corner, Fiskerstand unable to reach it at full stretch.
Up and on the front foot, Stokes rose well in the box four minutes after her opener to power a header just wide of the left upright, the home defence unable to cope. Forced into banks with centre forward Marte Berget even dropping well within her own half, it wasn’t long before the Norwegian champions conceded again. A loose foul on Jane Ross by Anna Westerlund had Stephanie Frappart pointing to the spot with no hesitation, Izzy Christiansen clinical from 12-yards.
The hosts did their best to respond and enjoyed a rare foray forward, Hansen’s zippy cross an easy enough claim for Karen Bardsley with Berget getting into a good position. The problem for the hosts, not just the two-goal deficit but their lack of fluidity and understanding going forward, the attacking players not at all on the same page.
Visitors close out tie early
City’s dominance continued after the break, the game typified as centre back, Steph Houghton charged forward and fed in a cross from the by-line, the visitors oozing confidence.
Getting a bit of their initial spark back, LSK found their rhythm and finally began to test the opposing defence, a scuffed effort from Berget pushed behind by Bardsley. The resulting corner easily dealt with, a stoppage in play with Houghton down enough to rebalance the game and let City mount their own attack.
The game became a little choppy after the hour, the hosts with flashes on something, a clever ball by Emilie Haavi or a neat run by Berget but it remained fractured the tie as good as over when Claire Emslie made it three. On for all of seven minutes the substitute picked her moment for maximum impact, her curler to the far top corner reminiscent of a Toni Duggan strike from a previous win. Three soon became four, Ross’s clean header from Abbie McManus’ pinpoint delivery enough to deepen LSK’s woes. The match and tie all but done when the fourth bounced in, Ross’s initial header parried by Fiskerstrand, the ball bouncing off of the yellow shirt in front of her into the inside of the post before rippling the net.
The introduction of Ingrid Kvernvolden seemed all too late, the substitute with some nice footwork to get her team going, an early effort flicked just wide by Houghton with Bardsley rooted. The Canaries cooked like a Christmas turkey, their lack of team understanding their undoing, individuals not enough to lift the side on their own.
The game petered out as both looked for the sixth goal, the last standing Norwegian team in the competition with more than a foot out of the door and another English team looking too strong for Scandinavian opposition.